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Mark
Hi there!

I'm looking for beta testers for a new software product that emulates the Sharp Zaurus on a PC running Linux. It is able to model most of the system features of the Sharp Zaurus SL-5500 platform such as the memory, LCD, touch-screen and serial ports for example. It is possible to connect to a network via PPP and download OpenZaurus packages from an internet feed.

The emulator will be a commercial product, and priced appropriately for home users, and for business users. I'm currently looking for volunteers for the beta test program. Basically you get to try it out for free before the release, and we get to find about bugs or suggestions for improvements. This is a great way to try out new Zaurus distro without worrying about bricking your Zaurus in the process!

If you are interested, please check out the details over at:

http://www.virtera.com

and become a site member if you'd like to give it a try. You will need to have access to an x86 Linux machine (many distros are supported). Sorry, Windows is not supported yet.

It can run bare machine programs, vanilla Linux kernels, and OpenZaurus SL-5500 distributions. The emulator uses some fairly sophisticated simulation techniques so performance is really good. It is close to a real-time simulation of the SL-5500 on a fairly ordinary 2.6 GHz Pentium 4, and better on an Athlon 64 3400+. It does a pretty good job running Zaurus Pacman in real-time for example!

There have been quite a lot of improvements recently:
- bug fixes
- support for AMD processors
- support for more distros
- now able to save root file system back to a file preserving state
- performance improvements

Look forward to hearing from you!

Cheers,

Mark.
ivanhoe
Mark,

do you plan to support emulation of C-series models (like C[78]60, C3000, etc)?
Mark
QUOTE(ivanhoe @ Mar 15 2005, 02:20 AM)
Mark,

do you plan to support emulation of C-series models (like C[78]60, C3000, etc)?
*


Hi,

There's a lot of interest in supporting more recent Zaurus models and I think we will probably pick a C-series model to do next. There is a fair amount of work to do as the platform has evolved quite a lot. For example, the XScale line of CPUs (with Thumb instructions) rather than the very old StrongARM SA-series in the original Zaurus. I can't commit to any time-scale at the moment, but it is in the pipeline. Cheers,

Mark.
Mark
QUOTE(ivanhoe @ Mar 15 2005, 02:20 AM)
Mark,

do you plan to support emulation of C-series models (like C[78]60, C3000, etc)?
*


Actually, let me turn this question around.

We want to choose one new Zaurus model to support in the future. Basically, the C7x0 and C8x0 are largely the same from the simulation point of view, so we would choose the C860 out of these. The only disadvantages are that they're not readily available in the US and fairly expensive, which makes it harder for us if we ever need access to real hardware/specs for reference.

The C3000 primarily adds the hard drive. This is a significant additional piece of work which will take more time. This one is also more expensive and harder to get hold of. From a simulation point of view, you can always use NFS over a network connection to access the host's disk so there isn't as much benefit to supporting this anyway. Also there isn't an OpenZaurus for this yet.

The other alternative is the SL-6000 which has the 400MHz XScale and the 640x480 screen. From a simulator point of view this pretty much provides the same functionality as the C7x0/C8x0 series. The C-series clam-shell and improved keyboard don't matter with a simulation!

So, considering the points above which would you like to see supported out of: SL-6000, SL-C860 and SL-C3000?

And remember we're only going to do one of these to start off with.

Cheers!

Mark.

(Edited: fix SL-5600 to SL-6000)
pgas
hmm,

For me the main difference of the C3000 is the new processor and the new graphic chip, the hard disk is a CF not very different from the CF expansion of the other models, it still has internal flash for the base system. Correct me if I'm wrong.

The SL-5600 resolution is 320x240 no? the SL-6000 is 640x400.

All models except the 5000/5500 use internal flash to boot.
Mark
Yes, sorry for the typo's - I fixed my post.

I'm surprised that the graphics chip has changed on the C3000. Don't they use the LCD controller on the PXA270?

Mark.
cwaig
There's a few other differences there - the C3000 and Sl6000 both have USB Host ports that the C860 lacks, and the SL6000 uses a different graphics chip to the C series devices - the C series have the ATI W100 graphics co-processor, whereas the SL6000 uses (badly) the Toshiba TC6393's integrated graphics processor (and there's no publicly available documentation for the TC6393).
pgas
QUOTE
Don't they use the LCD controller on the PXA270?


the slc-700 750 760 and 860 don't have a PXA270.
kahm
QUOTE(Mark @ Mar 17 2005, 04:28 AM)
QUOTE(ivanhoe @ Mar 15 2005, 02:20 AM)
Mark,

do you plan to support emulation of C-series models (like C[78]60, C3000, etc)?
*


Actually, let me turn this question around.

We want to choose one new Zaurus model to support in the future. Basically, the C7x0 and C8x0 are largely the same from the simulation point of view, so we would choose the C860 out of these. The only disadvantages are that they're not readily available in the US and fairly expensive, which makes it harder for us if we ever need access to real hardware/specs for reference.

The C3000 primarily adds the hard drive. This is a significant additional piece of work which will take more time. This one is also more expensive and harder to get hold of. From a simulation point of view, you can always use NFS over a network connection to access the host's disk so there isn't as much benefit to supporting this anyway. Also there isn't an OpenZaurus for this yet.

The other alternative is the SL-6000 which has the 400MHz XScale and the 640x480 screen. From a simulator point of view this pretty much provides the same functionality as the C7x0/C8x0 series. The C-series clam-shell and improved keyboard don't matter with a simulation!

So, considering the points above which would you like to see supported out of: SL-6000, SL-C860 and SL-C3000?

And remember we're only going to do one of these to start off with.

Cheers!

Mark.

(Edited: fix SL-5600 to SL-6000)
*



Well, Zaurii are largely unavailable in North America anyway - they're all discontinued. As for hardware differences:

5500 - 320x240, 206mhz Strongarm
5600 - 320x240, 400mhz PXA250/PXA255
6000 - 480x640, 400mhz PXA255, Toshiba Video
700 - 640x480, 400mhz PXA250, ATIW100, 32mb Ram, 64?mb Flash
750 - 640x480, 400mhz PXA255, ATIW100, 64mb Ram, 64mb Flash
7/860 - 640x480, 400mhz PXA255, ATIw100, 64mb Ram, 128mb Flash
1000 - 640x480, 416mhz PXA270, PXA lcd, 64mb Ram, 128mb Flash, USB Host
3000 - 640x480, 416mha PXA270, PXA lcd, 64mb Ram, 16mb Flash, USB Host, 4gb HD

Everything except the SL-C1000 and SL-C3000 are discontinued. If I were going to do an emulation target right now I'd go for the 1000, expecially if you're concerned about future relevancy. I suspect that Intel has been a little more open in regards to chip specs with the PXA Lcd controller over the ATI W100.
dhns
QUOTE(pgas @ Mar 17 2005, 08:30 AM)
the hard disk is a CF not very different from the CF expansion of the other models, it still has internal flash for the base system. Correct me if I'm wrong.

I think it is as pgas describes. The C3000 hdd drive comes in 3 partitions mounted as /hdd1, /hdd2, /hdd3 and everything is heavily linked symbolically with /home, /etc, /usr.

So, from an emulator's point of view, it is just a matter of how you map/mount which raw disk driver devices to the file system.

I assume if you can map host disk files to raw disk files for the Z Linux, you can just switch the size between 128k and 4GB.

Or are you emulating a PCMCIA/CF card controller hardware? Then, the 4GB CF card is connected to the second slot while the first one is the CF expansion slot. I have not yet dared to try "cardctl suspend" or "eject" on the 4GB...

-- hns
dhns
QUOTE(Mark @ Mar 15 2005, 08:11 AM)
PC running Linux.

Any chance to get a version running on MacOS X (with X11 server)?

-- hns
Mark
Thanks for all the feedback!

kahm - it sounds like the C1000/C3000 are the way to go. I don't want to invest the effort in supporting different video chips (on discontinued hardware). The PXA LCD controller doesn't seem so different from the original SA-1100 controller. I'll probably get started with one of the other PXA-based Zaurii first to get started on the PXA2xx features (since they have better OpenZaurus and application support for testing). The wireless MMX/SSE instructions in the PXA270 should be fun to model, especially if they map nicely into x86 instructions!

dhns - I am currently working on the support for CF cards, and this will indeed be a model of the CF card controller. The actual CF memory will map onto files in the host filing system. It looks like I will be able to do the 4GB drive on the C3000 just by allowing a second CF slot with a large CF card. This should work pretty well, and it will be interesting to see if the disk i/o performance can be improved beyond CF rates.

There are no prospects for a MacOS X port unfortunately. The main problem is that the back-end of the dynamic translator is completely customized for the x86 instruction set architecture. I generate x86 instructions on the fly for performance reasons. This would need to be completely reworked for PowerPC. If the dynamic translation is turned off and the simulator falls back to instruction interpreting, performance drops by an order of magnitude to about the equivalent of a 10-20MHz ARM. This is not good enough to support real-time operation of the GUI and applications (though its fine for console use).

The other difficulty is that we don't have access to any Apple hardware nor any experience with this platform. If we are going to support another host O/S, it will be Windows XP because that expands the market enormously for us.

Cheers!

Mark.
iamasmith
Grr, commercial venture, not open source.... send for the pitch forks and torches...

Nah, to be serious...

What's the position on the commercial switchover? Is this an OEM proof of concept? Are you marketing to commercial software houses? (bit late in the day for the 5500)...

I think it would be useful for rapid prototyping of ROMs but most ROM interest is now in the clamshell units. Qtopia development can be fairly easily achieved using an x86 build on a desktop and then a cross build for the Z....

What's the sweet spot and the $?

- Andy
Mark
Hi Andy,

Actually, the main reasons for choosing the Zaurus platform are the large amount of open-source software that can be used for testing, plus the active user/developer communities. Also, the SL-5500 is one of the cheapest and most functional ARM development platforms around ...

Mark.
kahm
QUOTE
The other difficulty is that we don't have access to any Apple hardware nor any experience with this platform. If we are going to support another host O/S, it will be Windows XP because that expands the market enormously for us.


Except, AFAIK, there's no toolchain to compile Z programs on XP, hence no real reason to have an emulator.
dhns
QUOTE(kahm @ Mar 18 2005, 03:49 PM)
QUOTE
The other difficulty is that we don't have access to any Apple hardware nor any experience with this platform. If we are going to support another host O/S, it will be Windows XP because that expands the market enormously for us.


Except, AFAIK, there's no toolchain to compile Z programs on XP, hence no real reason to have an emulator.
*


But there is one for the Mac: http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/20152

So, an Mac mini is not a too high investment (less than a C3000). But I understand these obstacle by moving to the PowerPC processor.

-- hns
Mark
QUOTE(dhns @ Mar 18 2005, 08:25 AM)
But there is one for the Mac: http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/20152

So, an Mac mini is not a too high investment (less than a C3000). But I understand these obstacle by moving to the PowerPC processor.

-- hns
*


Thanks for the info! The reasons for supporting Windows XP are that it is a relatively straightforward port and that it gains access to a lot of end users. You are right that there won't be any Zaurus developers, but there may be people who'd like to try a C1000 or C3000 under emulation before deciding to buy one. There are also people who might want to try out a different ROM in the safety of an emulator, before they risk bricking their expensive Zaurus.

Beyond this, there are plenty of other ARM-based PDA's that are much more Windows centric ...

Mark.
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